Diseases related to living in a sedentary way are some of the leading causes of death worldwide. Things like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have all been linked to sedentary lifestyles. Even aches and pains in different parts of the body like the lower back can be caused by sitting too much. It’s an abomination of evolution to spend 40+ hours a week sitting in a chair or lounging on the couch. Humans are built to travel long distances by foot, tracking down food and migrating to better environments. The good news is that it isn’t difficult to reclaim an active lifestyle.
MORE THAN PHYSICAL WELLBEING
Being too sedentary doesn’t just affect your physical wellbeing. It can also take a toll on you mentally. Exercise is a great way to let go of stress and other emotions that can be negative. Sitting around all day at the office then going home and laying on the couch is a comfortable routine that doesn’t offer much excitement or variability, which can lead to depression. People who are active report having less stress and higher levels of happiness. These are things everyone can benefit from, no matter how good you think you are at mindfulness practices. Just being outside, preferably in a natural environment, can do wonders for your mental health.
USE YOUR LUNCH BREAK
In general, being active for 150 minutes every week may help to decrease your risk of sedentary lifestyle-related conditions. This breaks down to about 20 minutes a day, which is less than the average lunch break. Lunch breaks are the perfect time to get some fresh air and go for a walk around the block or to wherever you might be meeting co-workers. It’s a great opportunity to de-stress from whatever work has thrown at you in the morning and clear your mind for the rest of the day. Keeping a pair of walking shoes in the office or car is also a good idea so you have something comfortable on your feet.
MOVE DURING YOUR WORKDAY
If you have a job where you are sitting for most of the day, try doing work-related tasks that don’t require a desk while on the move. Regular phone calls and routine conference calls are a great opportunity to get up and move. They aren’t completely passive tasks but aren’t intensive enough to require your full attention and are easy to listen to while walking. Just be sure to pick a quiet route if you need to be having a conversation with someone. A little burst of exercise during the workday can also boost your mood and energy levels, getting you through the workday without copious amounts of coffee.
CHANGE THE WAY YOU GET TO WORK
For those living in a city or close to work, walking, biking, or a combination of public transport and physical activity are easy ways to get in some extra active time. Burning fat instead of gasoline is great for the environment, too. A great way to be motivated to have an active commute to or from work is to recruit a friend or co-worker to meet up with and hold each other accountable to not taking the easy option.
Being active is one of the easiest ways to improve your life. The physical and mental benefits are hard to ignore, and it doesn’t take much effort to start seeing them. As little as 20 minutes a day can reduce the risk of sedentary related diseases. In the long run, it will save you a lot of pain and money. You don’t want to be suffering from preventable diseases after retirement when there are well-known ways to stave them off. Go ahead and take a walking lunch break and take the stairs when possible. It’ll be great for you!